Sky high

Donkey Kong might be one of the world's most famous arcade games, but it wasn't Nintendo's only stab at making a smash-hit arcade - the company had produced many other coin-ops around the same time, few of which could match the mighty Kong's commercial success.

As a result, many of these early releases are incredibly rare in their arcade form, and UK collector Alex Crowley - who we visited not so long ago to view his quite frankly amazing horde of Nintendo gear - claims to have unearthed what could be the rarest of the lot.

Crowley goes into detail in the video below (he also gets quite excited and uses some rude words, so consider yourselves warned), but the story basically goes like this: Sky Skipper had a very limited release in arcades in 1981 but wasn't the success that Nintendo had hoped for, and faced with offloading unsold arcade boards, the company decided to use the inventory for another game, Popeye. (The same trick was pulled when Radar Scope flopped in North America - the cabinets and hardware were used to make Donkey Kong.)

As a result, Sky Skipper was almost lost to history and no working examples were known to exist - until now, that is. Crowley is the proud owner of not one but two working Sky Skippers. Both are Popeye boards which have been converted back to their Sky Skipper configurations - a quite incredible feat of reverse-engineering, considering that no documentation or schematics exist to perform the work.

The process took Crowley's friend three months to complete, but the hard work has been worth it - he now has two working examples of one of Nintendo's earliest arcade efforts, and believes they are the only ones in the world.

Crowley now intends to reconstruct a Sky Skipper cabinet using artwork from an original flyer, and says he will take the completed unit around the UK for people to play. He's also looking to sell on his other board to a collector in North America, so that they can do the same on the other side of the pond - ensuring that this lost gem finds a new audience.

The video below is quite long, but well worth watching in full - this is a piece of Nintendo's forgotten history resurrected.